We Thought Modesty Made Us Timeless

Sierra of The Phoenix and Olive Branch recalls what it was like to grow up wearing “holiness”:

We told the comprehensive history of feminine apparel along these lines:

  1. God clothed Eve in the Garden.
  2. Women wore long robes, like men (but, crucially, not the same kind of robes).
  3. Women wore lots of fabric until the 20th century.
  4. From 1920 on, increasing amounts of sin in society caused women to strip off gradually.
  5. Eventually women will return to being naked, like in the Garden before God intervened, but without the innocence.

Except that narrow trajectory, in which clothing becomes simply skimpier and skimpier, doesn’t jive [sic] with actual history. The only real constants in the history of fashion are its tendency to change and its reflection of social hierarchies.

Sierra challenges her former—and many people’s current—narrative about modesty by simply showing us pictures of 20th-century dress.